With the mining boom Mark II driving the need for labour, there are fresh calls for an immediate increase in skilled migration to meet these demands. Deloitte Access Economics predict the growth rate among Australia’s working population will plummet from 2.2 per cent in 2008-09, to just 1 per cent next year.
There is a consensus amongst the big banks, think tanks and consultancies that there is a lack of skilled labour to supply a growing need spurred by new mining and energy-related projects.
In response to the global financial crisis permanent skilled migration planning levels were reduced by 14 per cent in March 2009, from an initial 133,500 to 115,000, resulting in 114,777 places delivered in the 2008-09 program year.
Planning levels were reduced further in 2009-10 to just 108,100 as a result of the economic slowdown that persisted through most of 2009, resulting in 107,868 places delivered in the 2009-10 program year.
Whilst demand for skilled migration remained strong in 2009-10, 143,368 applications were received in the skill stream in 2009-10, whilst a further 173,148 applications remained in the pipeline as at 30 June 2010. The skill stream planning levels for 2010-11 program year are set at 113,850 places.
The Business Council of Australia says migration numbers should not be permitted to reduce any lower and supports the use of temporary migration visas to fill skilled labour shortages.